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Recitation Hand Clasp

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When someone is reciting something from memory (or singing something from memory, as in a recital), they quite often assume a certain posture: Standing erect, they clasp the fingers of each hand together.

Apparently there is sound reason for this posture: pulling on one's arms expands the chest cavity, allowing for more lung capacity and thus volume. Perhaps a Discredited Trope, as it was probably done a lot more in the 19th century than today; modern classical singing technique expands the chest, sides, and back by other techniques which do not require alterations of a neutral standing posture, and a singer trained this way would have no reason to employ the hand-clasp.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Alice did this when she was reciting poetry in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.
  • In Brave, Merida assumes this position when receiving elocution lessons from her mother Elinor.
  • In Turning Red, Mei assumes this position when her grandma comes into her room presumably because Mei associates the pose with innocence and she was about to sneak out a moment before.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is done in Miss Congeniality by Miss California, during her opera talent portions.
  • The Von Trapp girls assume this posture during the family's recital at the festival in The Sound of Music. Friedrich and Kurt keep their hands by their sides instead.
  • Done without irony as a beginning and ending pose for the poetic recitations in the movie of Anne of Green Gables.
  • One of several positions Danny Kaye takes while singing in The Court Jester.
  • The knights of Camelot assume this posture (when they're not dancing on the tables) during the "Knights of the Round Table" song in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • The women's chorus assume this pose during the Major General Song in the 1983 film version of The Pirates of Penzance (and in the Delacorte theatrical version from which it sprang).
  • Kay Lemp, possibly out of nervousness, does this when making her national radio debut as a singer in Four Daughters.

  • In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the narration always tells us she folded her hands before she recited something, which happened frequently since random characters were always ordering her to recite this or that poem. Most of what came out was a parody of Victorian moral poetry, though the allusions are all but lost to today's readers.
  • Humboldt's Gift: Menasha, the amateur opera singer who is actually a terrible singer, "clasped his hands" before singing an aria at Humboldt's funeral. This little detail is meant to underline both how awful and how sincere Menasha is.

    Live-Action TV 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: Wakko Warner makes a point of doing this in the "Great Wakkorotti" shorts.
  • Giovanni Jones (the fat opera singer) assumes this posture in the Looney Tunes short, "Long-Haired Hare."
  • In the Family Guy episode, "Model Misbehavior", Peter (all four of him) takes this position when reminiscing about the time he was a member of the singing group, "the Four Peters" (basically humming "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Mozart).
  • The Loud House: Lucy does this at the end of "Head Poet's Anxiety" while reciting at a poetry show.

    Real Life 
  • A backstage video of X Japan doing post-production catches hide doing this to mock a particularly bombastic part of "Dahlia." Toshi joins in.
  • Yoshiki does the pianist version of clasping his hands before performing in all seriousness at his classical shows or during piano performances. Some people, not knowing what it is, assume it to be some kind of prayer.
  • Another reason it might be done in real life: it gives the speaker something to do with their hands. For children ... and other people who are nervous about public speaking ... "what do I do with my hands", probably something they've never in their lives thought about before, suddenly becomes a cripplingly paralyzing question when staring out at a sea of faces. Well-meaning friends may advise this posture, as while it looks somewhat unnatural, it's at least familiar from cartoons and movies, and it's clearly better than the other common default choice of putting one's hands in one's pockets.

Alternative Title(s): Recitation Posture